bread of life

All posts tagged bread of life

Lessons from the Wasteland: Rest

Published November 12, 2012 by joypatton

In the wasteland seasons of life, it often feels like God has taken everything away. The things that we once used to fill the time are no longer there. Sometimes by choice. Sometimes in spite of all our best efforts. We go from feeling busy, wanted, fulfilled or purposeful to a vaste expanse of feeling nothing. All the things we used to do for others, for ourselves, for the kingdom have fallen away and the calendar feels empty. Maybe not empty, just not full of the things that once were, just different.

We go from fruitful, lush, productive land to nothing but ugly lumps of dirt. And I remember that rest is important. That in order for the ground to be fertile, it has to rest every seven years. It feels so counterintuitive to plow up fruitful, good soil and just leave it, untapped and unused. Wouldn’t it be better to use it? But the truth is that the land must rest so that it will continue to be fruitful. If it doesn’t rest, it will lose the nourishment that makes it so prosperous.

Lately I’ve been pondering what Jesus said in John 6, that he was the bread of life. He compared himself to the manna that God sent to the Israelites in the wilderness. As I thought about it and went back to Exodus, the gift of manna was quite amazing. They were in the Wilderness of Sin and complaining about not having food. Their hungry bellies made them long for the old life of slavery. They begged Moses to take them back and criticized him for bringing them out to the desert to die.

Out of his love for his people, God decided to feed them with bread from heaven in the morning and quail at night. Consider how amazing this was after a slave life in Egypt!  They didn’t have to do anything for it. They didn’t have to make money to buy grain.  They didn’t have to grind grain.  They didn’t have to chop wood and build a fire to bake it.  If they didn’t make enough bricks the day before, the bread still came.  In the wilderness, they just had to gather what they could eat in a day.  And the quail came right into their camp!  They didn’t have to hunt for it or track it for days.  It was there.  They didn’t even have to make clothes!  The Bible says that their clothes didn’t wear out during those forty years.   As a woman, I think it must have been an amazing time of rest to have two of my main areas of responsibility completely cared for by God.  No cooking and no sewing!

When I think about Jesus being the bread that came down from heaven, I am even more amazed.  He came down as God’s provision, so that I could rest.  Because he died on the cross for my sins, I can be forgiven.  In John 6, he describes eating the bread of life as believing in the one God sent.  God loved us so much that he didn’t see us wandering in the Wilderness of Sin and turn away.  Rather he chose to make provision for us.  Abundant provision so that we could rest.

The amazing thing about grace is that I didn’t do anything to deserve it.  So even when I’m doing nothing, God’s love, grace, and provision remain.   In the wasteland, he takes everything away so that he can be my provision.  He wants to be everything to me so that I will learn to trust him with everything.  Sometimes I think he gets tired of competing with everything else in my life and he takes it all away so he can have me all to himself.  He wants to be my salvation so I don’t have to strive and work to make my own way.  Jesus is the bread of life, manna from heaven, and when I eat him, when I take him into my heart, I gain eternal life.

Rest sounds good, and I know it’s important, so why do I hate it so much?  Mostly because I’m not in control.  It’s not manageable and predictable in the wasteland. It’s boring because every day and every meal is the same.  Plus without all the distractions I’m forced to see myself for who I really am and sometimes that’s not so pretty.  I have to admit that my identity was defined by doing, that I believed I was only valuable because of what I did.  But he takes me into the wilderness to remind me who I am.  To remind that I am His and He is mine.  To remember that I am no longer a slave in Egypt, but a chosen one on the way to the Promised Land.

There have been days when I have grumbled and complained just like the Israelites.  It feels like he brought me out to the wasteland to die.  And yet he is patient with me.  And I know that I am loved, not because of all things I have done or not done, but because of all that He has done for me.  He brought me here so that I could die…to myself.  So that I could find life in Him alone.  He knows I am like the fruitful field that needed to rest for a season.  When I enter into this season of rest, I am not bound to the busy-ness of life and expectations of others.  I am free to rest.

Will you enter into His rest today?

What did you eat today?

Published September 25, 2012 by joypatton

Many American women could answer this question with frightening accuracy.  We are obsessed with food in one way or another.  If you don’t think this is true, go look at Pinterest and see all the food that everyone is pinning.  Recipes everywhere of things we wish we could eat, things we wish we could make, things we tell ourselves we will make someday. We watch TV programs devoted to food, even an entire channel of food all day every day.  Some of us control every little thing that goes into our mouths making sure it is healthy.  Some of us swing the opposite way and eat everything in sight.  Very few of us have a truly healthy relationship with food.

Most days I fall into one of two camps: dieting or bingeing.  Currently I’m on a diet (thus the obsession with food).  I like to diet every once in a while because it exposes bad habits (like eating everything the kids leave behind) and helps me set new ones (like eating small meals every three hours).  I focus on eating the “right” things and not eating the “wrong” things.  I follow a book with rules about weights and measures and calories.  It feels good because I see progress and in general I feel better too.  Since it’s about following rules and working a program, it’s satisfies my flesh.  The desire that I want to control my health and not get sick.  The desire that I can control how I look.  This is the Ice Queen end of the spectrum.

Then there’s the other side, the dark side, the binge.  I start to tell myself that God made pasta, especially chicken alfredo, for a reason.  He wanted me to enjoy food, so shouldn’t I be eating it?  When I have a bad food day, I’ll follow it with more exercise and less eating the next day.  It’s the calories game that we have learned to play so well.   I get overwhelmed because there is something “wrong” with everything.  Certain fake sugars cause cancer, even some vegetables are full of “sugar.”  It just feels like I can’t win, so why bother trying.  I get tired of trying to eat healthy all the time and sometimes I just want to EAT! This is the Orphan side of the coin.

Today I was in a general funk and meditating on the the verse that Jesus spoke “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” (John 4:34)  When I think about spiritual food, it’s not about the things I am actually putting in my mouth.  It’s more about my focus, what I’m putting into my brain.  For Jesus, even though he had been sitting in the sun by a well in Samaria and was physically hungry, his focus was on doing the will of the Father.  He told the disciples, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” (John 4:32)  He was satisfied and full because he had watched the woman at the well believe in him.

I must admit that often my spiritual food choices swing both ways as well.  This morning I worked a spiritual diet program and decided what my spiritual food should be.  I sat down to read and study in the book of John.  I wanted to be hit with something profound.  I was trying to eat the right and healthy food and even looked up Greek words and meanings.  I was trying to come up with something profound for my blog this week.  But then my sick little one interrupted my “meal,” and I couldn’t push her off in front of the TV any longer.

I spent the rest of the day stuck in a fog, not knowing what I was feeling or what God was trying to say to me.  So then I kind of spiritually checked out.  I laid on the couch to take a nap, and just as I was getting to good sleep, the little one woke up.  Then the girls did my hair and makeup as I laid on the couch surfing Facebook and Twitter on my phone.  The overindulgence and distraction led to a spiritual food binge.  I started comparing myself to other authors who are getting mentioned and published and wondering why it hasn’t happened for me.  I compared myself to other moms on Facebook talking about their tips for getting rid of pacifiers and talking to kids about sex.  In my self-righteousness, I told myself how good I’ve done on both.  My flesh was in full swing.

When I finally got my butt off the couch, I realized that I had just “binged” and felt guilty.  But then I remembered that “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me.”  The answer to getting out of the funk was to change my focus.  I didn’t need to focus on what spiritual discipline I could do that would “feed” me.  I didn’t need to ignore my hunger and let my thoughts chase after things that aren’t good for me.  I just need to lift my eyes and see Him.  I needed to be present in the moment I was in.  In this moment, what was the will of Him who sent me?  I was grateful God gave me little girls who love hair and makeup.  I looked around and decided what needed to be done around the house, how I needed to serve my family.

So what are you eating today spiritually speaking?  Where is your focus?  Are you on a “diet,” a strict regimen with lots of rules to follow and spiritual tasks that you should be doing to be healthy?  Are you bingeing, letting your mind chase after every distracting thought that “tastes” good at the time?  Are you feasting the Bread of Life, who satisfies the deepest hunger of your soul?  “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35)

I’m still not sure how to eat the bread of life, but I know it is the Royal Food of the Princess.  I think it started today with recognizing my bad eating habits and knowing when I’m eating junk food.  I’m still asking him exactly what this looks and feels like in my every day life.  Heavenly Father, teach me how to feast at your table.  May I only be satisfied by you.

So what have you eaten today?

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